13 March 2009

Never meet your childhood heroes...

If you know me well enough and started a conversation about cars, and asked me what's my favourite car off all time, i'd say it's the Honda NSX:

An original 1990-spec NSX (picture from Wikipedia)

This has literally been my dream car ever since 1990 (when i was 11 years old). I first saw it in an issue of Car and Driver and fell in love with it, and i was overjoyed to see one in real life in the first KL international motorshow a year or two later.

I love this car because of the motivations behind it, its history and the technology that went behind it. Honda had just won several constructors' championships in Formula 1 and, i guess, they wanted to show the world that they could do a kickass sports car too. I think one of the original goals was to beat Ferrari at its own game (which it succeeded in doing - the NSX was superior in every way to the Ferrari 348 which was released at about the same time. Rumour has it that it was the NSX that spurred Ferrari to make a decent car for a change, coming up with the awesome F355 in the process).

During the design process, the car was tuned using feedback from the great Ayrton Senna (the best F1 driver EVERRR) - who was a huge Honda supporter. You can see a YouTube video of him testing the first NSX Type R around Suzuka Circuit here:

The technology behind the NSX was really impressive too - it had a lightweight, normally aspirated 3.0-litre V6 with variable-valve timing (rare for a production car in those days) and could generate 270BHP, do 0-60MPH in 5.7 seconds and had a top speed of 168MPH (I quote all these figures by memory, so pardon me if they're slightly off). Some say this is still the best sounding V6 ever made.

The car's advanced, all-aluminum chassis and suspension was (and still is) a thing of wonder - it allowed the car to achieve a low kerb weight of about 3000 pounds (or about 1,340kg), which was very light for a sports car of its profile. It's also one of the most rigid monocoque chassis designs at the time. The original 1990 model didn't come with power steering either.

I remember how car magazines of the era waxed lyrical about the NSX's handling and performance. Even though turbocharged and bigger V8 / V12-engined cars could outrun it in a drag race, few could take corners as well as an NSX. Few cars were as involving. Even when as the car finally went out of production around 2005 ( bowing out with the awesome NSX-R), motoring journalists were still impressed with its handling against newer cars such as the Ferrari F360 and the latest incarnations of the Porsche 911.

Plus, i love the way it looks, of course. It's a pretty understated car, which means that it has aged pretty well.

God, I love this car...

Which is why it was really frustrating when i tried to sit in one the other day AND COULDN'T FIT INSIDE!!!

There's a 1993/94 model currently on sale for just RM148k in a showroom in SS2, Petaling Jaya (near the roundabout) and I just HAD to take a closer look. I giggled like a little girl as I climbed in, leaned back, and had my head wedged against the roof.

Fine, I'll just recline the seat, then. I did. And my head then hit the rear glass screen. The seats were already pretty low, and didn't offer any height adjustment either. Dammit!

This was all a shock to me because I had sat in an NSX in the Birmingham Motorshow, UK in the year 2000 and it fit in fine - but then, I remembered that it was the targa-top version of the NSX. And I hate Targa tops because they compromise the chassis' rigidity and generally come with detuned engines. AAARGH...!!!

I guess that's one more dream car to strike off my list...

However, speaking to the guy in the showroom, I managed to gather some interesting facts about the NSX in Malaysia (though I'm not sure how accurate they are).

There are only about 20 to 30 NSXs in the country and only TWO of them have manual gearboxes, which means that all of the others (including the one in this showroom) were Hondamatic models with the detuned version of the 3.0-liter V6 (producing only about 250BHP or something).

So there you have it - never meet your childhood heroes.


Caryn said...

Aww... ;_;

The Phoenix said...

I help, I help!
*Saws 3 inches off your skull*

zandramas said...

i wan one i wan one ... =P